Michael Phelps has joined just four others in the history of humanity to have won a record nine Olympic Golds, joining the likes of Paavo Nurmi and Carl Lewis.
But how is greatness defined? I would put my neck out and say legendary runner Emil Zatopek. who won a trifling three gold medals is up there amongst the greatest, and far greater than Mark Spitz , or any swimmer. Running, long distance or the sprint, is the crown event of the Olympics.
1. Paavo Nurmi (Finland) The Flying Finn's tally is all the more striking because his wins came in endurance running, specializing in the 1,500 and 10,000 meter races -- and almost everything in between -- from 1920 to 1928. His gold haul might have been higher but his Olympic career was cut short after he was charged with being a professional.
2. Larysa Latynina (Soviet Union/Ukraine)
The glamorous Ukrainian gymnast was strong in every discipline, taking gold in the All-Around event twice and leading the Soviets to victory in the team event three times. She netted six medals in each of her three Olympics -- 1956, 1960 and 1964 -- giving her the most medals of any athlete at 18. She went on to coach the Soviet gymnasts from 1967 to 1977.
3. Mark Spitz (United States)
The U.S. swimmer had predicted before the 1968 Olympics that we would win six golds. He took only two but more than redeemed himself in 1972. Spitz claimed seven golds -- the most in one Olympics for any athlete and set world records with each. Against conventional swimming practice, he set that mark unshaven, wearing a bushy moustache.
4. Carl Lewis (United States)
King Carl reigned over the long jump in four straight Games from 1984 to 1996 and also won the 100 meters race twice, taking the 1988 title after Canada's Ben Johnson was disqualified for doping. But drug allegations have tarnished his record. His own lawyer argued that Lewis took banned substances -- but only inadvertently in the form of over-the-counter herbal medicine.
(Compiled by Simon Rabinovitch)